How To Tame A Tech Zombie: Monitoring Your Child's Screen Time
Updated: Apr 20
Photo Courtesy of Sajad Nori on Unsplash
In the Age of Screens, it’s hard to keep your children away from one. Whether it’s the television, a cell phone, a video game console, or an iPad, modern children spend most of the day staring and sedentary. Sometimes, the blank look in children’s eyes as they stare into a screen is reminiscent of some of Hollywood’s best zombies. It’s a serious modern dilemma with no clear answer. So, as a parent, what can you do?
I’m not a licensed children’s health professional or a technology expert, but I was one of the last generations to be born without an iPhone in their hand and I am thankful for that every day. As someone who grew up with television and home computers (am I the only one who remembers when there used to be ONE family computer and you used to have to fight over it?), I know how tempting it was to stay inside all day vegged out in front of a screen; but instead, I made sure to have plenty of time away from it and in the real world as well.
1- Tracking Screen Time
There’s no clear rule of thumb or specific time you should let your child stare at a screen. All the research says something different and I promise you that you’re not a “bad mom” if you sometimes use your kid’s tablet as a high-tech pacifier, but it is important to keep a record of the screen time their logging for the day.
If you use an iPad, it’s way easier to keep track with their Screen Time app. Even without an iPad, your device should have a similar app or you can download it from their store. The app shows you how much time you’ve spent looking at your screen on that specific device for the day as well as how today’s hours average out with your weekly and monthly screen times. It also allows you to set time limits on apps and will kick you off if you spend too long on them. You even have the option to disable apps on a routine schedule (i.e. bedtime). It’s a simple tip that can help you to actually realize the amount of time your child is using a device so you don’t have to stop and think, have I just watched Encanto so many times that it’s all melding together…or did my child hit replay?
2- YouTube Tools
It’s also important to engage in play with your children and keep them moving! There is a YouTube channel called The Kiboomers which creates short, active videos like Freeze Dance and The Floor is Lava to facilitate quick and fun play for your children. And it still utilizes a screen so you can subtly trick your child into curing their tech zombie tendencies.
Photo Courtesy of Christian Wiediger on Unsplash
3- Plot-Driven Playtime
Another fun way to trick your children into forgetting they are not even looking at a screen is to incorporate their favorite TV show or movie into playtime.
Does your child like Jurassic park? Then pretend to be an escaped dinosaur on a rampage as they try to get away from you or capture you, depending on how brave they are! Is it actually Paw Patrol that’s their favorite? Create a fake rescue mission for their favorite doll! It could even be something as simple as throwing an impromptu dance party when you notice the glaze in their eyes or drool start to drip as they watch their millionth episode of Cocomelon.
The important thing is to realize that technology is meant to help us in the real world, not replace it. So keep track of your child's screen time and remember, there is no right or wrong way to parent your child. There’s just your way, but that doesn’t mean that occasional advice can’t be helpful!
Morgan Galvez is a freelance writer and editor with a BA in English (with a concentration in writing, rhetoric, and publication) from the College of Charleston. She is currently building her freelancing career through positions at Brainfuse and Fiverr.